Dr. Niko Tracksdorf, UConn German Studies Alumnus, earns Nelson Brooks Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Culture from ACTFL

Dr. Niko Tracksforf (PhD German Studies, 2017) has been teaching at the University of Rhode Island for 4 years. He was recently honored for his trailblazing work on the textbook series Impuls Deutsch – two UConn and UConn-affiliated German Studies scholars, Prof. Friedemann Weidauer and Dr. Nicole Coleman of Wayne State University (PhD German Studies, 2015) are co-authors – with one of the most prestigious awards in the field, the Nelson Brooks Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Culture from the American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages.

Among the many accomplishments Dr. Tracksdorf can list as his own, Impuls Deutsch has fundamentally changed many students’ experience in the German language and culture classroom, as emphasized in URI’s February 8, 2021 post about Dr. Tracksdorf:

“With a mix of co-authors and experts, the textbooks provide students diverse perspectives and include the stories of German-speaking populations not often heard from, such as those of the LGBTQ+, Jewish, Black and Turkish communities in such countries as Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Topics cover areas such as Afro-German poetry, an indigenous studies perspective of the Germans’ fascination with “cowboys and Indians,” and not only how to order a meal, but the science of molecular cuisine and sugar’s effects on the body.

“It’s a whole different approach from how many of us learned languages,” he said. “In the first year alone, over a hundred instructors in the U.S. have adopted the book. That’s a lot for German. In the first year, all these schools basically now teach German with the materials that a URI professor wrote. I think that’s what they recognized with this award.”

Tracksdorf came upon the idea for the textbook series while working toward his master’s degree and Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut, where he taught German in the EUROTECH Program. With a bachelor’s degree in English and math from the Universität Duisburg-Essen in Germany, UConn felt he was ideal to teach language courses that blended STEM and German.

At UConn, he created many classes during which students learning German did so through STEM topics – courses he brought with him when he joined URI’s IEP. One such one-credit class explores roller coasters in which students study the physics of roller coasters, their popularity in Germany, visit an amusement park for a backstage tour of a roller coaster, all while enhancing their German language and culture chops.”

For more information, please read the full post here.

Congratulations, Dr. Tracksdorf!

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